Reporting Anjali Hemphill
SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – The government shutdown is not slowing down millions of dollars slated to develop Sacramento’s city parks.
A brand new baseball complex in Natomas is one of several dozen projects the city is using a $21 million building fund for, and it will be open in just a couple of weeks.
“Every neighborhood needs a place for its kids to play,” said Dave Tamayo.
The sounds of children playing will soon fill some long deserted, overgrown Natomas fields.
“We had such deep cuts in maintenance, we had to shrink the amount of new parks that we were building, cause we couldn’t afford to maintain them,” said Sacramento Parks and Recreation Director Jim Combs.
The city has been sitting on a $21 million fund made up of grant money and development fees that is supposed to go to building several new parks and improving some old ones.
“We haven’t had a lot of development, especially in Natomas where they’ve had the moratorium. So those monies have kind of dried up,” said Combs.
However, city officials say they haven’t been able to build because there hasn’t been enough money left over to keep the parks maintained — until now. They say since the recent passage of Measure U, a special city tax, they are able to fill that void.
“It will go to help maintain them,” said Combs. “That’s the key in allowing us to go forward and build the parks.”
“The city reinvesting in parks is a really good sign,” said Tamayo.
Tamayo has been fighting for more than a decade to see an empty lot off 61st Street, near his home, turn into a place to play.
“Parks are really a quality of life issue, and if you don’t have a good park in your neighborhood, it kind of drags it down,” said Tamayo.
Tamayo says he’s thrilled a long-time city promise will finally be granted.
“They paid their monies. The developers paid the monies, and they deserve those parks, and now we can deliver,” said Combs.
The city says it plans to have all the new park projects underway or complete in the next two years.
Other funds collected from Measure U will also go towards restoring services for the city’s police and fire departments.